Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.
Citizen Co-Production in International
Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Discussing Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Tra...
2/113
This thesis was submitted by Hanna Hedwig Mohn (s2205343) on 12.01.2020 in partial
fulfilment of the requirements fo...
3/113
Acknowledgements
Along the lines of ‘behind every masters’ thesis stands a great support team’ I want to thank
quite...
4/113
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements.....................................................................................
5/113
5.1 Sub-Question 1.....................................................................................................
6/113
Abstract
Child sexual abuse is among the worst crimes imaginable. Victims not only suffer the abuse
experienced in t...
7/113
List of Abbreviations
CCTV Closed Circuit Television
DG HOME Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs
EC3 ...
8/113
List of Tables & Figures
Table 1: Overview of Total Output of Europol and Volunteers
Figure 1: Proliferation of Repo...
9/113
1. Introduction
Child sexual abuse impacts the most vulnerable members of society, with victims being scarred
for li...
10/113
solutions are often regarded as the holy grail in aiding investigations into the vast amounts of
child sexual abuse...
11/113
in researching the origin of material featured in the background of child sexual abuse material,
and thereby in the...
12/113
aggregated in more cases of co-production, also in other crime areas.20
All of this again serves
to underline the s...
13/113
To this end, this study follows the overarching research question: Which findings can be
derived from the theoretic...
14/113
Sub-Question 2
Consequently, the second sub-question of this study asks: How do Europol and the volunteers
taking p...
15/113
2 Theoretical Framework & Body of Knowledge
This chapter provides the background to the present case study. First, ...
16/113
two models focus primarily on top down and bottom up privatisation aspects of services to
private providers. The th...
17/113
Commodification of security
An alternative explanatory framework is called commodification of security, or economic...
18/113
provision.37
In practice, this means that public providers of security seek ‘strategic
relationships’ with other (n...
19/113
governance structures.42
Consequently, complex ‘conditions of ‘multilateral’ or ‘polycentric’
organisational networ...
20/113
Anchored Pluralism
As such, the anchored pluralism model was initially formulated as a critique to nodal
governance...
21/113
Ultimately, the condensed presentation of the two strands of responsibilization can be
broken down to the main diff...
22/113
2.2Citizen Co-Production of Public Services
Following theoretical considerations on security governance, the next s...
23/113
service provider and the participating citizens.69
Another definition adds the condition of the
relationship being ...
24/113
provided by the public sector, or agents hired on behalf of it.78
Meanwhile, citizens can either
be involved as ind...
25/113
may lead to better quality of the service, and may also improve aspects of perceived legitimacy
of the public servi...
26/113
particularly to cooperation with law enforcement.92
The primary service provider in the area of
a state’s internal ...
27/113
examples of co-production in this regard refer to simple preventative measures taken by
citizens, such as locking d...
28/113
had tortured and killed cats and distributed videos of this online.109
While these examples are
not under considera...
29/113
‘Nextdoor’.118
In the cases where online platforms are utilised, it has been found that ‘the lack
of a centralised ...
30/113
clustered along instances where evidence is both sought and provided, for follow up activities
by public service pr...
31/113
Research into Neighbourhood Watch Schemes: Citizens’ Motivation
Last but not least, the motivation of citizens taki...
32/113
named, in that there is a reward in participating by gaining new skills, being able to utilise
already obtained ski...
33/113
citizens’ motivation can be applied to the other strand as well, i.e. in cases where participants
are not recipient...
34/113
3 Setting the Scene: Context of the Case Study
To better understand the context in which the case study of the pres...
35/113
was found online and reported by tech companies160
amounted to a ‘record’ of more than 45
million photos and videos...
36/113
by new technology, that ought to be briefly addressed in the surge of availability of online child
sexual abuse mat...
37/113
However, cooperation with law enforcement is still said to be lacking, with weeks and
months passing until tech com...
38/113
such imagery,186
and how to learn from the cases that led to the detection of other offenders
and collectors of the...
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Discussing Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ Project
Hanna Mohn

Related Books

Free with a 30 day trial from Scribd

See all
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

  1. 1. Citizen Co-Production in International Investigations of Child Sexual Abuse Cases Discussing Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ Project Hanna H. Mohn, MA 2020
  2. 2. 2/113 This thesis was submitted by Hanna Hedwig Mohn (s2205343) on 12.01.2020 in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science (MSc) in Crisis and Security Management at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Supervisor: Ilina Georgieva, University of Leiden & TNO Second Reader: Dr Dennis Broeders, University of Leiden Word count: 23.9701 1 Excluding title page, acknowledgements, table of content, abstract, list of abbreviations, list of tables & figures, bibliography, and the annex.
  3. 3. 3/113 Acknowledgements Along the lines of ‘behind every masters’ thesis stands a great support team’ I want to thank quite a few people whose support and friendship was invaluable to me during the process of doing this study. For one, my family has been fantastic in motivating me with Brexit-esque motivational lines, such as ‘get the thesis done’, ‘you need to come out of student life on January the 31st ’, et cetera. All in good humour of course! Luckily, I already have a post-student deal, though separation from the academic part of my life will be a challenge. Although this is written hours before the thesis’ deadline, I can honestly say I have enjoyed university immensely and will always look back with pleasure at the interesting courses I was able to take, which were offered by inspiring and fantastic lecturers. On that note, I will never forget emails containing Dr Who references and great discussions in and outside of class. I will always be grateful to my wonderful friends, some of whom have in the meantime moved onto new adventures abroad, for the many tea and museum breaks, for biking to university every week so I could discuss thesis ideas and life with them, or for spending weeks at a time in the library together, with infamous 8am pain au chocolate and ‘een zwarte koffie en twee cappuccino’s’ breakfasts on the Spanish steps. Others have spared no energy in long telephone conversations and creative motivational messages, ranging from Kermit the frog gifs at 4am, to a whole series of one motivational message per day in the lead up to the submission date. I will be forever grateful for all your support and I will bake you waffles every day we meet. Additionally, my team at work had to listen to me going on about ‘thesis weekends’ for the past months now, and I’m grateful for their interest, understanding, and particularly for my manager telling me to drop everything and focus on the thesis during the last few days of writing it. A huge thank you goes to Ilina, who stepped in to supervise this project on top of her regular workload, for being very easy to talk to, and for continuously showing unwavering trust in my abilities, particularly when I needed such a boost! Last but not least, there are no words to adequately describe how great of a support my wonderful husband continues to be. Besides knowing I need ice cream before I know it myself, Tinus has genuinely been the most supportive, loving, caring, and perfect partner I could ever have dreamed of going through the ups and downs of life with. To say it in the words of Jane Austen: ‘If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.’ Thank you for everything!
  4. 4. 4/113 Table of Contents Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................3 Abstract...................................................................................................................................................6 List of Abbreviations ..............................................................................................................................7 List of Tables & Figures .........................................................................................................................8 1. Introduction.....................................................................................................................................9 Research Question ........................................................................................................................12 Sub-Question 1..............................................................................................................................13 Sub-Question 2..............................................................................................................................14 2 Theoretical Framework & Body of Knowledge............................................................................15 2.1 Theoretical Framework: Models of Governance of Security................................................15 Privatisation of security: Junior Partner Model...........................................................................16 Commodification of security.........................................................................................................17 Responsibilization of security .......................................................................................................17 Nodal Governance ........................................................................................................................18 Anchored Pluralism ......................................................................................................................20 2.2 Citizen Co-Production of Public Services ............................................................................22 Citizen co-production: What is it about?......................................................................................22 Participants in co-production.......................................................................................................23 2.3 Citizen Co-Production in Security: Cooperating with Law Enforcement.............................25 Technological Developments in Co-Production...........................................................................28 Crowdsourcing..............................................................................................................................29 Research into Neighbourhood Watch Schemes: Citizens’ Motivation..........................................31 3 Setting the Scene: Context of the Case Study...............................................................................34 3.1 The Crime Area Child Sexual Abuse....................................................................................34 3.2 The Case Study: Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project..................................40 Open Source Investigations ..........................................................................................................44 4 Methodology & Research Design.................................................................................................46 Research Approach & Case Selection ..........................................................................................46 Digital Ethnography, Social Media & Content Analysis..............................................................47 Ethical Considerations..................................................................................................................50 Data Collection.............................................................................................................................51 Limitations ....................................................................................................................................53 5 Findings & Discussion..................................................................................................................55
  5. 5. 5/113 5.1 Sub-Question 1......................................................................................................................55 5.1.1 Composition of the Group and Basics on the Volunteers’ Activity.....................................55 5.1.2 Profiles of Volunteers ...................................................................................................58 5.1.3 Being and Feeling as an (International) Community ....................................................62 5.1.4 Motivation.....................................................................................................................66 5.2 Sub-Question 2............................................................................................................................68 5.2.1 Europol’s Activity & Communication..........................................................................68 5.2.2 Cooperation in Practice & the Nature of their Relationship .........................................72 5.3 Research Question ................................................................................................................77 5.3.1 Theoretical Application.................................................................................................77 5.3.2 Theoretical Discussion..................................................................................................79 5.3.3 Unintended Consequences, Risks & Practical Recommendations................................82 6. Conclusion ....................................................................................................................................87 Bibliography .........................................................................................................................................90 Annex....................................................................................................................................................98 Annex A: Research Matrices ............................................................................................................99 Annex A.1: Research Matrix: Sub-Question 1 .............................................................................99 Annex A.2: Research Matrix: Sub-Question 2 ...........................................................................101 Annex A.3: Research Matrix: Research Question ......................................................................102 Annex B: Codebooks......................................................................................................................103 Annex B.1: Codebook Volunteers ..............................................................................................103 Annex B.2: Codebook Europol Posts .........................................................................................106 Annex B.3: Codebook Europol Comments.................................................................................107 Annex C: Overview of the Dataset .................................................................................................108 Annex C.1: Dataset: Total Output of Europol ............................................................................108 Annex C.2: Volunteers’ Dataset .................................................................................................113
  6. 6. 6/113 Abstract Child sexual abuse is among the worst crimes imaginable. Victims not only suffer the abuse experienced in the first place, but photos and videos taken of their abuse are distributed online across the world, revictimizing them indefinitely. With the internet accelerating the availability of child sexual abuse material online and facilitating interaction among offenders, law enforcement agencies are faced with an ever-increasing influx of detected child sexual abuse material they need to investigate – often even for the country of origin in the first place. The volume of material that needs to be investigated increasingly goes beyond the resources available to law enforcement. As such, law enforcement agencies need to come up with new ways to bridge this gap, particularly while technological promises of automation have not yet been sufficiently developed. This is symptomatic of a larger development, in that providers of public services more and more often engage in co-production schemes, whereby the regular providers of services, such as law enforcement, increasingly cooperate with citizens in various ways. In this study, the focus is placed on a case of co-production in the area of law enforcement, namely on Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project. Here, Europol and volunteers from all over the world work together to trace the origin of objects featured in the background child sexual abuse material, as this ultimately helps Europol to better target their investigative focus and refer child sexual abuse material to law enforcement agencies in the countries of origin. On the basis of an analysis of all posts and comments made by Europol and the volunteers on social media platforms during the first two years of the project, this study provides insight into the composition and characteristics of the volunteers as new actor in the security network. This, and the interaction and nature of the relationship between Europol and the volunteers are further discussed in the theoretical framework of responsibilized governance of security as a framework for the fragmentation of security. Besides theoretical insights, this highlights both best practices as well as risks and unintended consequences of this particular form of cooperation, which may be taken into account for future projects.
  7. 7. 7/113 List of Abbreviations CCTV Closed Circuit Television DG HOME Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs EC3 European Cybercrime Centre ECTC European Counter Terrorism Centre ESOCC European Serious Organised Crime Centre EU European Union EUROPOL European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation EMPACT European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats HOS Horizontal Services ICT Information and Communication Technology UK United Kingdom US United States (of America) MTIC Missing Trader Intra Community NCMEC National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children NGO Non-Governmental Organisation OSINT Open Source Intelligence VIDTF Victim Identification Taskforce
  8. 8. 8/113 List of Tables & Figures Table 1: Overview of Total Output of Europol and Volunteers Figure 1: Proliferation of Reports to US Law Enforcement Agencies Figure 2: Number of Contributions per Volunteer Figure 3: Location of Volunteers’ Contributions Figure 4: Languages of Volunteers’ Contributions Figure 5: Interaction with Output by Europol Figure 6: Publicity Tweet DG HOME Figure 7: Output on 'Save a Child - Trace an Object' Project in Relation to Output on other Topics & Crime Areas Figure 8: Total Europol Output on the 'Save a Child - Trace an Object' Project Figure 9: Content of Europol's Total Output on the Project Figure 10: Europol Output per Platform - Timeline
  9. 9. 9/113 1. Introduction Child sexual abuse impacts the most vulnerable members of society, with victims being scarred for life.2 Besides physical and psychological impacts of abuse, victims continue to be re- victimised whenever images or videos depicting their abuse are looked at.3 However, immense amounts of child sexual abuse material continue to be (re-)distributed online: In one case, five years after a victim had been rescued, photos and videos depicting her abuse were still found online 347 times in only 3 months.4 At the same time, a US law enforcement agency is so overworked in the crime area child sexual abuse, that cases had to be prioritised according to the age of victims, with focus placed on the youngest victims first.5 These two cases are symptoms of a status quo which is characterised by increasingly overwhelmed law enforcement agencies in light of challenges in targeting the crime area child sexual abuse. For one, these include ever increasing, vast amounts of child sexual abuse material distributed and detected online,6 and second, the increasing professionalisation of offenders committing child sexual abuse and the collectors of material created thereof, in that they utilise encrypted, hidden platforms in their interaction with each other. These developments are largely due to technological developments. The global spread of the internet and related possibilities for anonymity ‘continues to fuel the growing number of child sex offenders and victims.’7 An additional and related challenge to investigating cases of child sexual abuse is that the abuse is not limited to geographical borders: child sexual abuse material can be detected by any law enforcement agency, tech company, or rights groups in any given country, with little reference to where the abuse itself has taken place. As such, the first steps in investigating child sexual abuse cases may often involve trying to find out as much as on which continent the abuse has taken place, so that the case may be referred to appropriate (local) law enforcement agencies. Besides these challenges, current approaches towards tackling child sexual abuse are also marred by shortages in resources.8 Given the immense workload, automated, technological 2 BBC, ‘People Fixing the World: The Digital Detectives Tackling Child Sexual Abuse’. 3 There are three stages of victimisation of minors who are abused: it begins with their initial victimisation, through the act(s) of exploitation, then again when these acts are recorded, and again when this material is distributed and repeatedly re-circulated and ‘consumed’. See: Europol, ‘Efforts Stepped-up to Identify Victims of Child Sexual Abuse’. 4 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 11. 5 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 6 Keller and Dance. 7 Europol, ‘Europol Launches Public Appeal to Help Identify Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation’. 8 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’
  10. 10. 10/113 solutions are often regarded as the holy grail in aiding investigations into the vast amounts of child sexual abuse material available online.9 However, technological solutions cannot replace investigations entirely, and there is still a long way to go in their development. Meanwhile, cases need to be solved with those resources available to law enforcement, and some creative attempts are made in this regard. One project aiming at enhancing the investigative success into child sexual abuse cases is the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation’s (Europol) ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project, which commenced on 31 May 2017. Here, Europol focuses on ‘cold cases’ of child sexual abuse.10 In the project, Europol crowdsources investigative efforts in child sexual abuse cases, by sharing redacted child sexual abuse imagery in an attempt to reach people worldwide via a range of social media sites, to make use of their local knowledge to generate leads on child sexual abuse cases. Practically, Europol investigators crop out the victims featured in images or screenshots of their abuse, leaving only items featured in the background. When sharing these images, Europol asks people worldwide whether they recognise an item or a location, as these may point back to the continent, country, or even local area in which a child has been abused. These insights might ultimately help in the first steps towards identifying victims and offenders. Two years after starting the project, Europol reported on the results thus far: Within those two years, the agency received more than 23.000 contributions via the website created for the purpose of this project, on the basis of which 9 victims were identified, 2 offenders prosecuted, and a number of investigations still going on.11 Besides contributions made to Europol directly, it became apparent that the crowdsourcing request began to develop a dynamic of its own, in that some members of the public began to collaborate with each other in more depth: When they did not recognise an item or location on the basis of their own experience, they began to actively search for and to try to detect them, using a variety of online tools to do so. In many cases, these endeavours led to the successful identification of objects and locations, even down to precise geographical coordinates.12 As such, the crowdsourcing request was embraced by some volunteers who took up an active role 9 Poblet and Kolieb, ‘Responding to Human Rights Abuses in the Digital Era: New Tools, Old Challenges’. 10 Here, investigators have no more leads to follow. BBC, ‘People Fixing the World: The Digital Detectives Tackling Child Sexual Abuse’. See: FB11. 11 Europol, ‘International Collaboration via Europol Leads to Tentative Identification of 4 Victims of Child Abuse’. Also: FB52. 12 TW62.
  11. 11. 11/113 in researching the origin of material featured in the background of child sexual abuse material, and thereby in the investigations itself. Looking at this instance from a broader level, there is a long history of cooperation between members of the public and law enforcement, the means of which have modernised and developed in accordance with the times and means of interaction.13 Some of these instances have been researched within the framework of citizen co-production of public services.14 Here, ‘public services’, such as the provision of security, are provided, by or on behalf of public actors representing the state, in cooperation with citizens. However, research into cases of co- production of security is usually focused on local case studies,15 generating insight on community level involvement and on the socio-economic circumstances and motivations of individuals to participate in co-production.16 Notwithstanding, empirical research covering the groups of people engaging in co-production is still held to be scarce,17 and given the local setting of the case studies of such research, some previous findings on citizens’ motivation to take part may not apply to and thus do not explain for the vast involvement of international volunteers in Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project. Here, people who engage in the project do not directly benefit from its results,18 nor are they part of a local community, but a network of people based all over the world. As such, Europol’s project has been outwith the scope of current research, as there is a gap in knowledge on the composition and motivational factors of volunteers interacting with a public service provider – here, Europol as representative of law enforcement – in an international setting, with interaction primarily via social media platforms. This group of volunteers has been particularly identified as avenues for future research, with a view to understanding the motivation of persons ‘to participate […] and how to ensure their engagement.’19 This gap in empirical knowledge is especially relevant when considering the inherent potential of volunteer involvement, whereby pooling the local knowledge of people worldwide, or their willingness to do open source research, could be 13 Examples date back to any involvement of people as witnesses, the distribution of ‘most wanted’ posters, and more active instances of collaboration, such as police-citizen councils, community policing, or Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. 14 Examples include: Davis et al., ‘The Public Accountability of Private Police: Lessons from New York, Johannesburg and Mexico City’; Diphoorn and Berg, ‘Typologies of Partnership Policing: Case Studies from Urban South Africa’. 15 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 324, 326. 16 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, 325. 17 Van Eijk and Steen, ‘Why Engage in Co-Production of Public Services?’, 29. 18 This aspect will be briefly discussed in chapter 2.2. 19 Muraszkiewicz, ‘Crowd Knowledge Sourcing - A Potential Methodology to Uncover Victims of Human Trafficking’, 29.
  12. 12. 12/113 aggregated in more cases of co-production, also in other crime areas.20 All of this again serves to underline the societal relevance of researching instances of crowdsourcing, including the base of volunteers responding to such requests, their interaction with the crowdsourcing party, and potential practical and theoretical implications deriving from the use of it. However, the discussion of co-production cases can be further broadened by placing it in the framework of theoretical considerations of the fragmentation of security provision, and thereby applying it to the realm of security governance. Identified drivers and relationships among regular and new providers in security range from top-down privatisation models, to bottom-up commodification, to more nuanced variations of cooperation.21 These models are discussed theoretically with a view to establishing generalisations on the nature of the relationship between actors, including the respective position they hold, and their cooperation with each other. Additionally, theoretical considerations on governance of security models highlight open questions that derive from such interactions between regular and new providers of security, and to some respect have overlaps with gaps in co-production literature, including on the composition of the new actors, their purpose, and importantly also on the implications of their relationship with regular providers. The relevance and theoretical value of these models can be supported or disconfirmed by applying case studies to them, to see if the theories’ defining aspects are applicable in practice. Respectively, knowledge on case studies themselves benefit from being applied to theory, in that the theoretical framework draws attention to the aforementioned open questions, particularly regarding considerations of both practical and broader implications which might be derived from the cases. Research Question Against that background, this study follows the objective to contribute to theoretical knowledge generation and to provide explanatory value to the case study of Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project by way of applying it to the governance model of responsibilization.22 20 An example mentioned by Muraszkiewicz in this regard is human trafficking, or trafficking in human beings, given that this crime area also spans across geographies. Muraszkiewicz, 24. 21 Matthys, ‘Three Different Governance Models in Public-Private Security Cooperation: From Accountability to Protection of Civil Liberties’. 22 The governance model of responsibilization of security was selected due to disqualifying criteria of other governance models, which rendered their application incompatible with the case study. This particularly relates to a predominance of for-profit or commercial relationships in the governance models outwith
  13. 13. 13/113 To this end, this study follows the overarching research question: Which findings can be derived from the theoretical application of the case study of the interaction between Europol and volunteers in the ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project to the governance model of responsibilization, both in terms of theoretical and practical insights? Here, the project’s characteristics will be applied to those entailed in the responsibilization model, and insights on the open questions therein will be addressed. To this end, two substantial elements of the case study first need to be addressed, without which the overarching research question cannot be answered. For one, the principle of responsibilization models entails another actor23 being involved in the cooperation with the public provider of security, i.e. in the present case study: with Europol. Very little is known about the group of volunteers Europol is cooperating with, and as such, insights on the group of volunteers representing the new actor cooperating with Europol in the case study, must first be generated. Sub-Question 1 Consequently, the first sub-question of this study asks: What is the composition and the characteristics of the volunteers taking part in Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project? Aspects covered in this regard range from the composition of the group, to profiles of volunteers, to how they interact with each other, to indicators pointing to the volunteers feeling as a community, the group’s independence, and motivation of volunteers. The research matrix outlining all aspects which will be covered in this regard can be found in annex A.1. However, co-production cases are not just about the unique or new actor being involved in addition to the regular provider of public services, nor would security governance consideration contain much breadth if only one actor was discussed. The ‘co’ aspect, representing the interaction between the regular service provider and the volunteers, is just as important, considering that co-production cases and governance research live from the joint involvement and interaction of both actors. responsibilization, while the latter also encompasses non-commercial cases of cooperation. This will be discussed further in chapter 2.1. 23 As will be discussed at a later stage, new actors involved in the provision of security can be individuals, groups of individuals, civil society organisations, NGOs, for-profit actors, and more.
  14. 14. 14/113 Sub-Question 2 Consequently, the second sub-question of this study asks: How do Europol and the volunteers taking part in the ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project interact with each other, and which findings can be derived from this? Aspects covered here include an analysis of how the cooperation works in practice, their relationship towards each other, and what can be improved. The research matrix outlining all aspects which will be covered in this regard can be found in annex A.2. To answer the research questions, this study analyses the output of both Europol and volunteers participating in the ‘Safe a Child – Trace an Object’ project made on social media platforms24 during the project’s first two years, i.e. from 31 May 2017 to 1 June 2019. Applying the case study to a governance model serves to place Europol’s project into a framework, on the basis of which it may be explained as a phenomenon representative of broader developments. This is of relevance to academic knowledge generation, in that any insight on actors joining in the provision of security in its broadest sense, may have both philosophical and practical implications.25 As a first step, this study introduces the theoretical background on the theories on governance of security, followed by the body of knowledge, which comprises of the state of research on citizen co-production, and its application by law enforcement. This is followed by an introduction into the crime area child sexual abuse and the challenges faced by law enforcement in this regard, and a more detailed presentation of Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project. Next, the methodology will be covered, followed by a discussion of the findings. 24 In the case of output made by Europol, a small number of press releases made on the agency’s website will also be taken into consideration. 25 These could, for example, refer to discussions of the so/called social contract, according to which citizens give up some of their freedoms to the State, in exchange for the State’s provision of their security. However, if citizens join in the provision of security, not in the capacity of security personnel or public sector employees, but in their capacity as citizens, this results in an open question of what this means for the social contract.
  15. 15. 15/113 2 Theoretical Framework & Body of Knowledge This chapter provides the background to the present case study. First, the theoretical framework of the research, to which the empirical findings of sub-questions 1 and 2 will be applied in answering the overarching research question, is discussed. Next, the focus will be placed on the context of the study in more practical terms, by introducing citizen co-production as the administrative framework of the case study. This is followed by a brief discussion on the forms of crowdsourcing used by law enforcement, before the crime area and Europol’s project itself will be discussed in the next chapter. 2.1Theoretical Framework: Models of Governance of Security In an extensive review of current cross-disciplinary scholarship, Burris makes observations on a shift in the actors involved in provision of public services, going from single (public) providers of services to a multitude of actors involved in this provision.26 According to him: ‘The main theme to which all the transformations in governance27 that we describe are ultimately reducible is the fragmentation of state sovereignty and the consequent multiplication of agencies and forms of power that are active in the management of social systems. Once it was dogma that our collective world was divided into two fundamentally different spheres: the public sphere – the realm of governors, and the private sphere – the realm of the governed. This crucial distinction is no longer accepted as an accurate representation of the way things are.’28 This fragmentation in the provision of public services in general can also be observed in the provision of (internal) security. This is not only limited to scholarly analysis and theorising, but also extends to governments themselves, who are vocal about the non- exclusivity of the provision of security.29 There are three main governance models, which attempt to provide explanations for the fragmentation of public security provision. The first 26 Much can be said on the philosophical and theoretical implications of having more actors involved in the provision of security, and some of this will be addressed in the framework of research question 3. 27 Governance is defined by Burris as ‘organised efforts to manage the course of events in a social system.’ Burris, ‘Changes in Governance: A Cross-Disciplinary Review of Current Scholarship’, 3. 28 Burris, 12. 29 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 462.
  16. 16. 16/113 two models focus primarily on top down and bottom up privatisation aspects of services to private providers. The third one, called responsibilization, provides a more varied approach, in that not just public providers and private firms or private contractors contribute to security functions in a variety of areas, but also private citizens. In light of the case study’s focus the cooperation between law enforcement and citizens, rather than for-profit actors, the following section will only briefly introduce the two first governance models, to provide insight into the shifts that can occur in the provision of security. This will be followed by a more detailed section on the third governance model, responsibilization of security, and its two main strands, nodal governance and anchored pluralism, whereby the latter is of particular relevance for this study. Privatisation of security: Junior Partner Model The classic model explicating the relationship with new actors in security governance refers to a straightforward, top down instance of outsourcing or privatising tasks. Here, the public provider of security changes their perception on what they consider to be core elements of their responsibilities on the basis of either, or both, economic and political considerations of efficiency and natural evolutions of responsibilities, arguably with a view to being able to better concentrate on their ‘core’ tasks.30 From there, they identify minor tasks that may be outsourced to private, for-profit commercial providers, on the basis of a contractual relationship.31 Here, the private provider effectively serves as an extension of the initial, public actor, which is represented by the name by which this governance model is also known as, i.e. the junior- partner-model.32 Against this background, this governance model may explain for certain (early) developments in public private partnerships, but it does not explain for the case of Europol’s ‘Save a child, trace an object’, seeing that there is no contractual, scrutinised relationship between the involved actors. 30 Diphoorn and Berg, ‘Typologies of Partnership Policing: Case Studies from Urban South Africa’, 426–27. 31 For example, such minor tasks may refer to the ticketing of cars. 32 Matthys, ‘Three Different Governance Models in Public-Private Security Cooperation: From Accountability to Protection of Civil Liberties’, 3.
  17. 17. 17/113 Commodification of security An alternative explanatory framework is called commodification of security, or economic market model. Contrary to the previous model, this represents a bottom up approach, whereby a referent society – including both the general public, and arguably also state actors33 – changes its perception on security towards seeing it as a commodity, rather than as a public good.34 Society becomes consumers, and ‘greater’ security becomes a tradeable good; perhaps even a luxury. Respectively, the market of private providers of security increasingly grows and diversifies, with private actors increasingly becoming competitors of public services in an increasing range of sectors. This goes beyond the outsourcing of minor tasks in the framework of responsibility considerations, but places almost exclusive emphasis on return of investment and efficiency; leading to market-driven choices for public private partnerships.35 Considering that the volunteers participating in Europol’s project are not remunerated, nor does the project represent a bottom up approach, the present governance model, which places such emphasis on commercial and monetary involvement, may also be held to not apply to the case studied in this study. Responsibilization of security The third and broadest governance model, that of responsibilization of security, is of particular relevance, since it is the most applicable one to the present case study. For one, it entails a lesser emphasis on commercial and for-profit relations, though these may be possible, too. Instead, it refers to a more or less horizontal, trust-based relationships between independent, potentially even equal actors of all backgrounds, who increasingly cooperate and work together in joint approaches to achieve a common goal.36 The general idea behind this responsibilization model is that an increasing, general demand for the provision of security can no longer be met to a satisfactory extent by the public sector, and here particularly by the police, courts and prisons, and that there is a shared responsibility by all actors who consequently should contribute according to their abilities to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of security 33 Krahmann, ‘Security: Collective Good or Commodity?’, 396. 34 Abrahamsen and Williams, Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics, 76–78. 35 Matthys, ‘Three Different Governance Models in Public-Private Security Cooperation: From Accountability to Protection of Civil Liberties’, 4. 36 Matthys, 5–6.
  18. 18. 18/113 provision.37 In practice, this means that public providers of security seek ‘strategic relationships’ with other (non-state) actors, whereby the latter are encouraged to take an increasingly active role, particularly in preventative activities. To this end, public service providers create incentives and publicity campaigns, wherein they press on citizens’ sense of duty, to ‘connect the population to crime control agencies’ and thereby to persuade new actors into ‘new forms of cooperative action.’38 In the Anglo-Saxon context these are coordinated by quasi-governmental organisations.39 Traditional public and new private actors thus effectively form part of an integrated security dispositive. Actors involved can represent for-profit interests or altruistic involvement and anything in between in a networked environment. Considerations on this governance model refer to implications of potentially unclear roles and accountability, i.e. whether this is due towards the partners in the provision of security, or towards the public, particularly when contrasted with the previously introduced governance models of public- private partnerships, which are relatively in this regard. Considering all introduced governance models, Boutellier and van Steden note a temporal development along them. They claim: ‘we currently move from a vertically (‘top-down’) organised world to a more horizontally oriented one wherein the state, the market and civil society interpenetrate – a tendency which has fuelled a blurring of norms, values, interests and working methods.’40 This increasing involvement of new actors has led to a ‘modern mix of public and private options and roles’, which can be visibly observed across the European Union (EU).41 Within the conceptualisations of responsibilization, two theoretical models exist, in an effort to explain potentially diffuse relationships in security sectors. These differentiations are known as the anchored pluralism model, as well as the nodal governance model. Nodal Governance The nodal governance model explicitly takes a non-state-centred approach, in that a neutral mapping research agenda into security governance is proposed, whereby the state should not be considered as a leading actor per se to allow for a critical reflection on the reality of 37 Kempster, ‘Responsibilization’, 355. 38 Kempster, 355–56. 39 Kempster, 356. 40 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 462. 41 van Steden and Sarre, ‘The Growth of Private Security’, 222.
  19. 19. 19/113 governance structures.42 Consequently, complex ‘conditions of ‘multilateral’ or ‘polycentric’ organisational networks’ are observed in the provision of security,43 and it is not deemed significant who performs a task, so long as it is being performed. This may be either due to considerations of efficiency, shifts in property relations of publicly used spaces, or as the result of previous instances of outsourcing of tasks by the state.44 The model evolves around observations of a proliferation of organisational ‘nodes’, which represent ‘organisational sides of security’.45 As such, the state is effectively ‘but one among many’ nodes,46 alongside local, international, and transnational groups of actors, including groups of volunteers, going beyond public-private divides, nation states and other localities, such as physical or cyber spaces.47 The provision of security by these nodes points to collaboration and relationships formed via networks on which nodes are situated,48 thereby arranging new models of security provision through a multitude of actors.49 Interaction among nodes need not be harmonious. Burris and Drahos note an explanatory value of the nodal governance model, in that ‘it makes possible precise description of how what might appear as 'spontaneous' ordering emerges from an [organisation] and operates at the boundaries of contingency, structure and agency.’50 However, critique of the nodal governance model is severe in addressing the ‘one among many’ position of the state in nodal governance models, saying that ‘governance structures need to be more ‘anchored’ and ‘directed’ than nodal theories presuppose. […] Only when local safety policies are set up systematically, and backed by solid state presence in the background, are nodal arrangements able to function to their full capacity.’51 However, it must be noted that within nodal governance, the approach towards the state’s position is not entirely consistent, in that a strict non-state focus is more emphasised by critiques of the model, than by its proponents, which allow for the state to still hold a particular role.52 42 White, ‘The New Political Economy of Private Security’, 91. 43 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 463– 64. 44 Boutellier and Van Steden, 464. 45 Boutellier and Van Steden, 464. 46 Boutellier and Van Steden, 463. 47 Shearing and Wood, ‘Nodal Governance, Democracy, and the New “Denizens”’, 400; Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 465. 48 Burris and Drahos, ‘Nodal Governance’, 33. 49 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 465. 50 Burris and Drahos, ‘Nodal Governance’, 53. 51 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 463. 52 White, ‘The New Political Economy of Private Security’, 93.
  20. 20. 20/113 Anchored Pluralism As such, the anchored pluralism model was initially formulated as a critique to nodal governance, in that anchored pluralism entails the premise that security governance is still state-centric. Accordingly, the state is held to necessarily play a distinctive role in the provision of security and coordination of partnerships, instead of it being just one of many nodes.53 This was especially held to be so, considering the state’s symbolic authority in security, and particularly in the field of policing.54 As mentioned above, ‘state interference is [seen as] necessary and desirable in the provision of security,’55 not least due to the state’s representation of ‘the most effective, morally just and socially responsible means of delivering security today.’56 As such, the context of anchored pluralism is politically situated and highly normative.57 Anchored Pluralism places shifts in governance into historical perspective, and thereby does not identify radical changes in roles, given that public-private role divisions and models of cooperation have fluctuated across the last centuries.58 Historical references also explain the emphasis on the state’s symbolic power, in that enlightenment literature on the social contract is drawn upon to explain the symbolic power of the police.59 Practically, while more actors are involved in the provision of security, the state fosters cooperation with other, private actors, though having rolled back itself somewhat.60 Nonetheless, public service providers such as law enforcement agencies, and by extension the state, are not considered to be withdrawing towards vertical relationships. On the contrary, according to Crawford: ‘contemporary political and social engineering in favour of ‘smarter’ governing capacities have not resulted in deregulation, but rather an expansion in regulatory systems, which straddle the classic public–private dichotomy. As such, public authorities, at least in the field of policing and security, are redrawing and extending rather than withdrawing powers.’61 53 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 463. 54 Boutellier and Van Steden, 463. 55 Schuilenburg, The Securitization of Society: Crime, Risk, and Social Order, 47. 56 White, ‘The New Political Economy of Private Security’, 93. 57 White, 93. 58 Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 466. 59 White, ‘The New Political Economy of Private Security’, 94. 60 Matthys, ‘Three Different Governance Models in Public-Private Security Cooperation: From Accountability to Protection of Civil Liberties’, 5. 61 Crawford (2006) in: Boutellier and Van Steden, ‘Governing Nodal Governance: The 'anchoring’ of Local Security Networks’, 467.
  21. 21. 21/113 Ultimately, the condensed presentation of the two strands of responsibilization can be broken down to the main difference being the level of intensity assigned to the role of the state, and by extension of public service providers. Beyond this, the main indicators of the application of responsibilization of security entail the following: • Increasing demand for security provision can no longer be met to a satisfactory extent by respective public service providers; • the state, or public service provider representing states, works towards motivating and persuading individuals and organisations to commit towards joint responsibility and a joint working relationship; • cooperation between the public actor and new actors is horizontal and trust-based; • partners of the public actors are independent from one another; • the role of the state, or public service provider representing it, is smaller than previously, but it remains in a more powerful position (the extent of which may be debatable) to override any cooperative activities.62 Last but not least, gaps outlined by researchers into responsibilization entail questions such as ‘who are the actors that participate in divergent networks? […] Who is communicating with whom, how frequent are contacts and what is the nature of relationships? […] What are the purposes of actors? […] How is a security network really being shaped, sustained and governed? [Are] partners […] central to co-ordinating and directing organisational networks?’63 Further research is also called for with regard to explorations into ethical and accountability concerns, and particularly on unintended outcomes resulting from the increasing involvement of new actors in security networks.64 Against that background, and further considering collaboration schemes of co-production and research gaps therein, which will be outlined in the following sections, this study generates findings on the volunteers and their cooperation with Europol in investigative activities. These findings will be taken to assess the application of responsibilization to the case study, and in that process contribute to closing some of the gaps outlined before. This will be discussed in more depth in chapter 5.3. 62 Boutellier and Van Steden, 468. 63 Questions compiled in: Boutellier and Van Steden, 475–76. 64 Boutellier and Van Steden, 476–77.
  22. 22. 22/113 2.2Citizen Co-Production of Public Services Following theoretical considerations on security governance, the next sections introduce the partnership framework in which cases of public-private cooperation play out in practice: citizen co-production schemes. The following sections first address the characteristics of citizen co- production in general, and then narrow it down to citizen co-production in security, and with law enforcement investigations in particular. On this basis, crowdsourcing as a method of cooperation will be addressed, followed by a discussion of citizens’ motivation to participate in co-production in security. Citizen co-production: What is it about? Building on the theoretical section above, it must be noted again that fragmentation in the provision of public services already exists. There are few entities, at least in Western societies, that can provide their services without building on anyone else’s involvement. Besides contractually outsourcing parts of services to private for-profit service providers, there are also increasing examples of co-production of public services. Here, the delivery of public services has shifted away from one-way, top-down processes towards a ‘revolutionary concept’, which allows and ‘demands’ for new ways of interaction between public service providers and citizens.65 Here, the role of citizens as co-producers, rather than only as consumers of public services can be as a ‘radical reinterpretation of the role of policy making and service delivery in the public domain.’66 However, first and foremost, the term co-production is said to lack ‘conceptual and definitional clarity, given that it is used to refer to a variety of collaborative governance arrangements that can involve a wide range of actors in a wide range of activities of the public sector cycle.’67 As such, citizen co-production of public services is an administrative concept, which seeks to conceptualise any instance in which ‘citizens [are] involved in the production of public services,’ by way of cooperating with the regular producers of these services.68 Some definitions add that the joint provision of services is of a regular nature, with a long-term relationship being formed between the participants, i.e. the regular 65 Bovaird, 846. 66 Bovaird, ‘Beyond Engagement and Participation’, 846. 67 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 277–78. 68 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 323.
  23. 23. 23/113 service provider and the participating citizens.69 Another definition adds the condition of the relationship being ‘equal and reciprocal’.70 Examples of instances of citizen co-production in the provision of service functions are multifold and span across a variety of sectors, activities,71 and countries across the EU and worldwide.72 As such, they are often referred to by a multitude of sub-terms, with co-production functioning as umbrella term.73 Co-production take place in at least three distinct phases: in the planning phase, the delivery (production) phase, and the assessment phase of services.74 The delivery phase is of particular relevance for the case discussed in this study. While the underlying reasons for each instance of citizen co-production may vary, the overarching goal of such cooperation is to ‘[enhance] the quality of the services produced’.75 Besides this, a variety of other benefits can be identified, though also some shortcomings, both on a practical, as well as on an abstract level, for citizens and regular service providers alike. Ultimately, citizen co-production is a particular type of citizen engagement, though ‘not all forms of citizen engagement are about co-production.’76 Practically, the role division and the details of interaction and cooperation depend on the case at hand. They range from substitute inputs, whereby citizens’ activities replace tasks previously held by public providers of services, to additive inputs, whereby citizens’ activities complement those of public providers.77 Participants in co-production As discussed previously, the main parties involved in co-production cases are by definition the regular service providers and citizens. In Western countries, public services are typically 69 Bovaird, ‘Beyond Engagement and Participation’, 847. 70 NESTA 2011 in Bovaird and Loeffler, ‘From Engagement to Co-Production’, 1121. 71 Implications of what it means to have a multitude of actors involved in the provision of public services, in particular relating to security, were addressed in the framework of governance theories in chapter 2.1 and will be touched upon again in chapter 5, in the framework of the overarching research question. 72 Stott et al., Co-Production. 73 These include: co-planning, co-design, co-prioritisation, co-financing, co-managing, co-delivery, and co- assessment of services. See: Bovaird and Loeffler, ‘From Engagement to Co-Production’, 1124. 74 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 281. 75 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 323. 76 Löffler, ‘CitizenPoweredCities: Co-Producing Better Public Services with Citizens - Observatory of Public Sector Innovation’. 77 Bovaird and Loeffler, ‘From Engagement to Co-Production’, 1123.
  24. 24. 24/113 provided by the public sector, or agents hired on behalf of it.78 Meanwhile, citizens can either be involved as individuals, or as part of communities of people,79 though they are mostly considered as laypersons within co-production frameworks.80 Citizens, or citizen groups can take various roles in co-production initiatives, which naturally depend on their background and expertise and subsequent role in the co-production case in question.81 Citizens ‘may take part at the invitation of government, or take the initiative themselves.’82 Further, regular service providers can approach citizens to take part either following pre-defined categories, i.e. citizens’ capabilities, position within the community, or place of residence, or they can be undefined, i.e. when open calls by public service providers seek to attract anyone to join. The general idea in discussions of citizen co-production is that citizens taking part in the delivery of public services mainly do so on a not for profit basis.83 Hence, the citizens involved are often referred to as volunteers. Last but not least, Sorrentino et al differentiate between individual and collective co-production. The former refers to situations where only the end-user of a service takes part in the production of it, considering that they are the beneficiaries of this service. The latter refers to cases where the citizens participating are not limited to those using or receiving the service, with a base of volunteers or participants being much broader.84 The latter concept is particularly relevant for the case discussed in this study. Benefits of co-production include that these schemes may serve as an end in itself, rather than as means to an end due to improved quality of the service, and improved understanding between the citizens and service providers.85 Cooperation and understanding 78 Depending on the case, the public sector may be represented by any local or national government, any ministry, agency or other (public) institution, or by private actors, when services are contracted out to individuals or companies. See: Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 280. 79 This includes being part of civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), associations, or special interest groups, which do not necessarily have to be independent from the public sector. See: Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 278. 80 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, 280. 81 In this regard, citiyens maz represent interests, e.g. through unions in deliberations of policy-making, they may provide technical expertise (lobbying), be involved in capacity building (foundations), in the organisation of social activities (sports), and in instances of service delivery, e.g. in the implementation of projects through the provision of technical expertise or maintenance. 82 Van Eijk and Steen, ‘Why Engage in Co-Production of Public Services?’, 29. 83 Given the vast range of co-production examples, especially considering broad definitions of co-production, it is possible that examples can be found where volunteers are paid allowances for expenses. However, as soon as a payment takes the character of salary, the case no longer represents a classic case of citizen co- production, but rather a for-profit relationship. 84 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 280. 85 A recent Dutch study found that as the understanding between citizens engaged in co-production with the police improved, the Dutch police was perceived as more reliable. See: van der Land, van Stokkom, and Boutellier, ‘Citizens in Security: Taking Stock of Citizen Participation in Social Safety (Summary)’, 3.
  25. 25. 25/113 may lead to better quality of the service, and may also improve aspects of perceived legitimacy of the public service provider. Practically, citizens step in as non-salaried extra resources, which may also make the service more cost efficient. Downsides on the other hand may include transaction costs.86 Further resources will have to be spent by regular providers of services to ensure that any possible accountability concerns are addressed, particularly in terms of ensuring adherence to (ethical) standards. On a broader level, there may be the risk of a loss of professional legitimacy of public service providers, if non-professionals are involved. Additionally, if the idea is portrayed that citizens are able to get involved, there is a risk of disenfranchisement if citizens’ contributions end up not being sufficiently taken into account. Here, ‘there appears to be a huge latent willingness of citizens to become more involved, but only if they feel they can play a worthwhile role.’87 Overall, previous research into co-production cases is spread across a multitude of sectors and sub-categories of co-production. Much research is based within public administration and is usually placed in the framework of sectors other than security, in particular in the health sector.88 The combining element is that the underlying case studies of previous research are almost exclusively based on local communities, while very little is known about international cases and groups of volunteers. As will be discussed further below, some research has also been done on people’s motivation to become engaged in co-production.89 However, broader insights on best practices of cooperation elements of co-production, particularly when disengaged from local particularities, is scarce.90 2.3 Citizen Co-Production in Security: Cooperating with Law Enforcement In light of the focus of the present case study, considerations on citizen co-production will be narrowed down from general aspects towards citizens participating in security,91 and 86 Bovaird and Loeffler, ‘From Engagement to Co-Production’, 1137. 87 Bovaird and Loeffler, 1136. 88 Bovaird and Loeffler, 1125. 89 See for example: van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’. 90 Further below, the term crowdsourcing will be briefly introduced. In the framework of crowdsourcing, research has been done into motivations of online crowds to take part, however, these are not set in co- production contexts, but in purely business contexts. Crowdsourcing in business contexts entails the application of competitive crowdsourcing contests and gamification models, and in many cases monetary compensation is involved. As such, findings from business-related crowdsourcing studies are not considered further. See for example: Zhao and Zhu, ‘Exploring the Motivation of Participants in Crowdsourcing Contest’, 2. 91 Security can be defined as the status in which an entity is protected from ‘events and activities that embody danger.’ See: van Asselt, ‘Safety in International Security’, 590.
  26. 26. 26/113 particularly to cooperation with law enforcement.92 The primary service provider in the area of a state’s internal security93 are law enforcement agencies. While the maintenance of a state’s internal security requires a complex set of actors, activities, and facilitating factors, cooperation between law enforcement and citizens towards this end dates back far throughout history.94 Given transitions in responsibilities from historical night-watchmen groups to contemporary law enforcement and other actors in the provision of security,95 it must also be noted that ‘citizen involvement in the governance of their own conduct’ is increasingly called for and encouraged by governments.96 This may be due to changed perceptions on who should provide security, political and economic considerations, and more.97 According to Garland: ‘Instead of addressing crime in a direct fashion by means of the police, the courts and the prisons, this [new] approach promotes a new kind of indirect action in which state agencies activate action by non-state organizations and actors. The intended result is an enhanced network of more or less directed, more or less informal crime control, complementing and extending the formal controls of the criminal justice state.’98 Examples for co-production with law enforcement exist in all main areas of law enforcements’ activity, i.e. in prevention and deterrence, protection and detection, and investigations.99 Notwithstanding this possible variety, it was found that ‘citizen participation […] in community policing is almost exclusively prevention oriented.’100 The most basic 92 Instead of narrowing down co-production to one of its sub-categories, e.g. co-delivery, this study follows the area in which co-production may be situated, given the variety of possible means of interaction possible within this, and potential related findings available from related research into co-production cases in the respective topical area. 93 The distinction between internal and external security is that external security broadly refers to security against any aggression against a referent state from outside, foreign actors, such as other states, whereas internal security refers to the upholding of law and order within a state’s geographic borders. However, the lines between the two have become increasingly blurry, particularly due to globalisation effects and cross- border crimes, such as child sexual abuse and human trafficking, which make it harder for individual states to tackle these issues. 94 In this regard, it can be pointed out that law enforcement emerged from night watchmen groups, i.e. citizen militia, who represented early forms of law enforcement. See: Thompson and Hudson, ‘An Introduction to Police Operations and Methods: The Connection to Law and History’, 11. 95 Zedner, ‘Too Much Security?’, 155. 96 Newburn, Criminology, 349. 97 Matthys, ‘Three Different Governance Models in Public-Private Security Cooperation: From Accountability to Protection of Civil Liberties’, 3; Diphoorn and Berg, ‘Typologies of Partnership Policing: Case Studies from Urban South Africa’, 426–27; Abrahamsen and Williams, Security Beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics, 76–78; Krahmann, ‘Security: Collective Good or Commodity?’, 396; Bovaird and Loeffler, ‘From Engagement to Co-Production’, 1121. 98 Garland in: Newburn, Criminology, 349. 99 Manning, ‘Role and Function of the Police’. 100 van der Land, van Stokkom, and Boutellier, 3.
  27. 27. 27/113 examples of co-production in this regard refer to simple preventative measures taken by citizens, such as locking doors, installing alarm systems, and reporting crime to the police.101 In the same line, active cooperation, when called for, such as witness statements and calling the police upon realising a crime was committed, may be counted.102 Such examples may not easily be recognised as examples of co-production compared to others.103 More easily recognisable, active cases of co-production include the provision of technical expertise, e.g. through joint academic research, or by way of volunteer incident response teams compiled of specialists in a certain area, e.g. IT and cyber security, who may be called in by law enforcement to help if needed.104 A practical example is that of Ramsey County, in Minnesota, United States (US), where citizens monitor half of the local surveillance cameras via a website set up for this purpose. Any unusual activity is reported to the local police, who ultimately only monitor the cameras once prompted to do so.105 The latter examples are primarily top down, with law enforcement requesting information and/or assistance from the any or specialised members of the public. However, some bottom up examples exist as well, e.g. in the case of investigative journalists’ work, which may prompt further law enforcement investigations into cases brought up here. On a broader, and more abstract, level, citizens also co-produce by way of more or less directly acting in oversight functions; either by electing officials,106 by recording law enforcement officers’ actions for accountability reasons,107 and potentially through investigative journalism. However, if locking a door is considered as co-production, as well as joining law enforcement agencies in investigation efforts, then the metaphor of priority baggage applies: if everything is a priority, or co-production, then nothing is. Last but not least, there are also fringe cases, where citizen engagement in investigations has seen independent bottom up approaches, rather than attempts at co- production: In the case of the Boston Marathon bombings, activists from the collective Anonymous, as well as Reddit users, sought to identify the bombers themselves, independently of the police.108 Another example is that of an online community attempting to find a man who 101 Sabet, ‘Co-Production and Oversight: Citizens and Their Police’, 245; Ostrom, ‘Citizen Participation and Policing: What Do We Know?’, 1–2. 102 Ostrom, ‘Citizen Participation and Policing: What Do We Know?’, 102. 103 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 324–25. 104 Such teams exist in the Netherlands for example. 105 Meijer, ‘Co-Production in an Information Age’, 1157. 106 Sabet, ‘Co-Production and Oversight: Citizens and Their Police’, 245. 107 This refers to theoretical debates on sousveillance practices, whereby citizens ‘look back at the state’. See: Mann and Ferenbok, ‘New Media and the Power Politics of Sousveillance in a Surveillance Dominated World’. 108 Açar, ‘Osint By Crowdsourcing’, 211.
  28. 28. 28/113 had tortured and killed cats and distributed videos of this online.109 While these examples are not under consideration in this study, they nonetheless may represent a demand of individuals wanting to help and contribute, which goes in line with their inherent potential, as identified by Muraszkiewicz.110 Technological Developments in Co-Production Much can and is being said about the role of technology in the prevention of crime and the provision of security in general. Technology functions as crime enabler and facilitator,111 as enabler of tools for crime prevention and early detection,112 and as facilitator of new means of interaction between participants in the provision of security. As such, while co-production is already no static concept, its multiple variations also adapt as technology and means of cooperation and participation develop.113 Sorrentino et al observe that traditional co-production involved ‘in-person, face-to-face relationships,’ while more recent co-production traits, particularly those involving more than just the users or consumers of services, are characterised by ‘the use of asynchronous information and communication technology (ICT)-based modes of interaction mediated by web-based platforms and mobile devices.’114 As such, new technologies offer opportunities to modernise previous models of co-production and to facilitate new practices of interaction therein.115 This also holds true in terms of increased geographical reach facilitated through technologies. Modernised ways of interaction include the use of apps and online platforms for interactions, such as WhatsApp alerts in Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, the Dutch ‘Burgernet’,116 and the facilitation of exclusively online co-production, such as the previously mentioned example of CCTV117 camera observations in Ramsey County, and online discussion groups, e.g. the US platform 109 Harrison, ‘Don’t F**k With Cats: Netflix’s Kitten-Killer Series Branded “Most Disturbing Documentary yet” by Viewers’. 110 Muraszkiewicz, ‘Crowd Knowledge Sourcing - A Potential Methodology to Uncover Victims of Human Trafficking’, 25. 111 See the section on the crime area child sexual abuse in chapter 3.1 below. 112 Examples include the employment of CCTV cameras (both as preventative element and source of evidence material), metal detectors and baggage screening equipment (as deterring and detecting elements), and many more. 113 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, ‘Understanding Co-Production as a New Public Governance Tool’, 281. 114 Sorrentino, Sicilia, and Howlett, 278. 115 Meijer, ‘Co-Production in an Information Age’, 1157. 116 Meijer, 1164. 117 CCTV stands for Closed Circuit Television.
  29. 29. 29/113 ‘Nextdoor’.118 In the cases where online platforms are utilised, it has been found that ‘the lack of a centralised service often makes the response somewhat disjointed’, leading to law enforcements’ servers crashing when too many citizens seek to contribute,119 although social media has been considered as solution in this regard.120 More creative applications of traditional co-production aspects have been enabled as well. For one, this includes television shows being used to visualise the knowns of crimes to trigger witnesses’ memories and to appeal to them to come forward.121 Other modernisations have been explored by Europol, in that most wanted criminals lists were adapted into a most wanted advent calendar122 and summer postcards,123 to generate more widespread attention.124 Crowdsourcing When cooperating with the public in investigations, law enforcement can also utilise another method of cooperation which was facilitated through technology, namely crowdsourcing. The term ‘crowdsourcing’ is used since 2006 and initially ‘simply referred to a type of outsourcing through which some business-related activities of a company are carried out by an anonymous crowd, in response to an open call in online environments.’125 Moving on from a commercial aspect, crowdsourcing activities by online communities expanded in range, with examples including the classification of galaxies, gathering information during social crises, and more. As such, crowdsourcing is defined by Barbham as ‘an online, distributed problem-solving and production model that exploits the collective contributions of online crowds to serve the organizational aims of the requester.’126 Crowdsourcing is not restricted to any geographical sphere, and it allows for both local and international application. It can be used in multiple ways by law enforcement in the framework of investigations, which may be particularly 118 Brewster, Gibson, and Gunning, ‘Policing the Community Together: The Impact of Technology on Citizen Engagement’, 94. 119 Wilson, ‘Crowdsourcing and Criminal Investigations’. 120 Brewster, Gibson, and Gunning, ‘Policing the Community Together: The Impact of Technology on Citizen Engagement’, 94. 121 Wilson, ‘Crowdsourcing and Criminal Investigations’. 122 Europol, ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… to Lock up These Criminals’. 123 Europol, ‘Dear Europe’s Most Wanted Fugitives - the Police Want You Back Home This Summer!’ 124 These campaigns by Europol were nominated for the European Ombudsman’s ‘Award for Good Administration’ 2019, considering that they led to the apprehension of 17 criminals. The agency’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project received a separate nomination. See: European Ombudsman, ‘Nominations for the European Ombudsman “Award for Good Administration” 2019’. 125 Howe (2006. 2008) in: Açar, ‘Osint By Crowdsourcing’, 209. 126 Brabham (2008) in: Açar, 209.
  30. 30. 30/113 clustered along instances where evidence is both sought and provided, for follow up activities by public service providers and volunteers respectively. For crowdsourcing efforts to be successful, the task must be ‘appealing to a large number of persons [because it is] enjoyable, interesting, glorifying, gratifying, or allows self-development and the establishment of a respectable online profile.’127 Further, ‘persons will engage in crowdsourcing type activities if the result will benefit them directly.’128 For one, law enforcement agencies can crowdsource the gathering of evidence, by asking the public to provide all images and videos taken during and in the proximity of the occurrence of a crime. In such cases, law enforcement officers may not be able to witness and record everything themselves or via CCTV footage, and citizens’ footage, or their coming forward with other information,129 can close that gap to ensure all offences are prosecuted.130 Examples in this regard are multifold and include well known cases, such as the 2011 London riots,131 the 2013 Boston bombing,132 the 2016 Central Park Explosion,133 but also smaller incidents, such as the stabbing in the Hague in November 2019. Additionally, law enforcement can crowdsource more active investigative elements, such as requests for the identification of items and/or locations, as was done in the case of Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project. Here, as will be explained in section 3.2, Europol provided parts of child sexual abuse evidence to the public, asking people worldwide to identify the origin of items and locations featured in this material. Additionally, a broad application of the term crowdsourcing may be held to include requests for the public to provide information on the identity of individuals, e.g. by publishing wanted posters, in the classic sense, but also in more concerted efforts, such as during the follow up of the 2017 G20 riots, when the police of Hamburg published a request for the identification of more than a hundred presumed rioters along with their photographs.134 127 Muraszkiewicz, ‘Crowd Knowledge Sourcing - A Potential Methodology to Uncover Victims of Human Trafficking’, 24. 128 Von Hippel (2005, p.5) in: Muraszkiewicz, 25. 129 Sabet, ‘Co-Production and Oversight: Citizens and Their Police’, 246. 130 Zercoe, ‘Crowdsourcing Crime’. 131 Here, 500 investigators ultimately assessed above 200.000 hours of footage. See: Wilson, ‘Crowdsourcing and Criminal Investigations’. 132 Stroud, ‘In Boston Bombing, Flood of Digital Evidence Is a Blessing and a Curse’. 133 Nir, ‘Police Seek Photos in 2016 Central Park Explosion’. 134 ZEIT ONLINE, ‘Öffentlichkeitsfahndung: Polizei Veröffentlicht 101 Bilder von Mutmaßlichen G20-Tätern’.
  31. 31. 31/113 Research into Neighbourhood Watch Schemes: Citizens’ Motivation Last but not least, the motivation of citizens taking part in co-production schemes will be touched upon. One of the most prominent examples of co-production, and particularly in the area of security and law enforcement,135 is that of so-called Neighbourhood Watch Schemes. These are also among the most researched cases of co-production – particularly in the US and United Kingdom (UK) settings, though more recently also in Europe136 – even dating back to some of the earliest works on co-production itself in the 1970s.137 As such, findings derived from studies on Neighbourhood Watch Schemes provide the most insight on citizens engaging in co-production in security. In Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, citizens take an active role in the protection of their local neighbourhoods, e.g. by patrolling the streets and directly sharing information with law enforcement.138 As such, participants in these co-production instances are both consumers of the service at hand – the safety of their neighbourhood – and providers. Effectively, the responsibilities of citizens taking part in the co-production of the outcome of a safe neighbourhood vary from broad references to ‘supporting a liveable area’ to being ‘the police’s eyes and ears’.139 As to citizens’ motivation to participate in co-production, van Eijk et al note that ’despite many studies in the field, we know little about what drives individuals to engage in co-production.’140 They continue to cluster three sets of factors, however, which ‘are expected to influence one’s willingness to engage in co-production.’141 First, individuals have to care about the issue at hand, and they must feel confident that they are both willing and competent to participate in the co-production case at hand.142 An additional element here is that it must be easy to participate in the respective activity, and there should be actual room for citizens to participate.143 Second, individual characteristics in terms of socio-economic profiles and social connectedness play a role.144 Lastly, self-interested and community-focused motivations are 135 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 324. 136 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, 324, 326. 137 Ostrom, ‘Citizen Participation and Policing: What Do We Know?’, 102–8. 138 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 325. 139 Van Eijk and Steen, ‘Why Engage in Co-Production of Public Services?’, 38. 140 This is partly due to empirical research on citizens’ motivation being largely placed in other sectors. Van Eijk and Steen, 26, 29. 141 Van Eijk and Steen, 42; van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 327. 142 van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 327. 143 This does not refer to physical offices, but rather to the part of the contribution being significant or meaningful enough. 144 Sundeen and Siegel (1987) in: van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 325.
  32. 32. 32/113 named, in that there is a reward in participating by gaining new skills, being able to utilise already obtained skills, being part of a community, being able to influence local proceedings and achieving a safer neighbourhood.145 However, earlier research disagrees in part with these findings, holding individual characteristics to be no significant indicator for citizens to take part.146 Bennett instead notes that perceptions of fear and the likelihood of crimes occurring were more significant with participating citizens, compared to those not participation in Neighbourhood Watch Schemes.147 In line with van Eijk et al, Bennett’s findings point out that participants in co-production schemes are generally involved stronger in their local community than others.148 Other research added participants’ motivation to do their ‘citizens’ duty’ by contributing.149 However, beyond these personal factors, each case of co-production entails other factors, such as case-, context-, and time-specific variables, which may influence citizens’ motivation to participate.150 Since research on citizens’ motivation to take part in co-production in security, and particularly with law enforcement, is primarily based on case studies of local Neighbourhood Watch Schemes, there is a resulting prevalence of findings pointing to personal factors. This is so particularly in terms of (self-)interest of individuals, given that the citizens on which previous research is based are also the recipients of the service at hand. Considering the previously mentioned two strands of co-production, wherein in one case, participating citizens are recipients of the service in question, while in the other case, they are not direct recipients,151 findings on citizens’ motivation as discussed in this section only represent the first strand. As such, it remains an open question whether all identified categories which might influence 145 Van Eijk and Steen, ‘Why Engage in Co-Production of Public Services?’, 38; Sharp (1978) in: van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 325. 146 Bennett, ‘Factors Related to Participation in Neighbourhood Watch Schemes’, 211. 147 Bennett, 212, 216. Zhao et al (2002) confirm this. See: van Eijk, Steen, and Verschuere, ‘Co-Producing Safety in the Local Community’, 325. 148 This includes being able to recognise strangers to the neighbourhood easily, relying on neighbours helping each other out, and having many local friends. See: Bennett, ‘Factors Related to Participation in Neighbourhood Watch Schemes’, 213. 149 Findings of van der Vijver (2009) in: Meijer, ‘Co-Production in an Information Age’, 1166. 150 Van Eijk and Steen, ‘Why Engage in Co-Production of Public Services?’, 42. 151 Here, although the respective stage of this study has not yet been reached, it may be briefly discussed whether people are direct receivers of services when child sexual abuse offenders or material collectors, as well as victims, are identified and found. In the most direct sense, people are only direct receivers of this ‘service’, if their family members, friends, or members of their community are victims of child sexual abuse, or if an abuser or collector is among these groups. More broadly, however, everyone may be considered as a direct recipient of the service, given that the arrest of offenders and collectors may protect (otherwise would- be) victims from future abuse. As such, everyone benefits from a safer society, in which abusers and collectors have no place. Nonetheless, given that the volunteers considered in this case study come from all over the world, they will not be considered as recipients of this service in the direct sense, only abstractly.
  33. 33. 33/113 citizens’ motivation can be applied to the other strand as well, i.e. in cases where participants are not recipients, and where no local (community) elements are of relevance. Here, caring about a certain area may not be restricted to local instances, while van Eijk et al’s third category on self-interest and community focus may either not apply at all, or be translated into being part of an online community, where skills may also be learned and utilised. Among others, this will be touched upon again in the chapter 5.1.
  34. 34. 34/113 3 Setting the Scene: Context of the Case Study To better understand the context in which the case study of the present research is placed, the crime area child sexual abuse and the challenges faced by law enforcement in responding to crimes in this area will be discussed in the first part of this chapter.152 This is followed by a section in which the background and setting of the case study itself, i.e. Europol’s ‘Save a Child – Trace an Object’ project will be outlined. 3.1The Crime Area Child Sexual Abuse Child sexual abuse, also called child sexual exploitation, refers to any instance in which a child or a person below the age of 18 is subjected to either, or a combination of, indecent exposure, forced intercourse, and sex trafficking.153 This includes the production of any photos or videos of such instances of child sexual abuse.154 The latter can be referred to as child sexual abuse material, imagery or content.155 Persons committing the abuse, recording, and/or receiving it, may be referred to as offenders and collectors respectively.156 2018 figures from the UK Internet Watch Foundation show that more than half of child sexual abuse imagery involve children between the ages 11-13, with a further 40% of children being under the age of ten.157 In 2018, nearly a quarter of child sexual abuse imagery involved rape and sexual torture. The remaining material contained either non-penetrative sexual activity, or any other indecent material not counted as rape, sexual torture, or non-penetrative sexual activity, such as performing sexual acts in front of children.158 78% of child sexual abuse material assessed in 2018 showed girls.159 The amount of child sexual abuse material that 152 Elements of preventing crime in this area will not be discussed, given that the focus of this study is placed on the criminal investigation phase after a crime has been committed. Nonetheless, investigative successes and publicity may potentially have a deterring effect and as such may possibly influence the prevention of crime in the area of child sexual abuse. However, the opposite effect may also come to play in that offenders adapt and become more cautious when committing crimes. 153 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 1. 154 Europol, ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’. 155 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 56. 156 Europol, ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’. 157 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 28. 158 The Internet Watch Foundation, 18, 28. 159 The Internet Watch Foundation, 28.
  35. 35. 35/113 was found online and reported by tech companies160 amounted to a ‘record’ of more than 45 million photos and videos in 2018.161 This figure reportedly more than doubled since 2017.162 It is further reported to have grown exponentially across the past decade.163 Attempts at explaining this surge of child sexual abuse material must address two considerations: a) whether the production and distribution of child sexual abuse material itself increased and/or b) whether the detection of such material increased. As to the first consideration, Bursztein et al note in their longitudinal measurement study of the online distribution of child sexual abuse material, that the ‘illegal distribution of child sexual abuse imagery […] has transformed alongside the rise of online sharing platforms,’164 leading law enforcements’ review capabilities and investigations to a breaking point.165 New child sexual abuse material emerges constantly, with 84% of images and 91% of videos being reported only one time, rather than repeatedly, before being taken down.166 Nonetheless, unlike in pre-internet times, technological means have allowed child sexual abuse material to multiply much quicker.167 In the same light, the Internet Watch Foundation notices a steady increase of the number of domains on which child sexual abuse material appears since 2014.168 In 2018, the increase of child sexual abuse images was noted to be at 18%.169 At the same time, a year-over-year growth of 379% in the distribution of child sexual abuse material in video format was noted, due to the wider availability of video-capable smartphones.170 Contributing to the number of child sexual abuse material being distributed by offenders and collectors, researchers and law enforcement also note an increasing trend of the distribution of ‘self-produced content’ by 11-15 year olds.171 Such material was even shared in social media groups of childrens’ school classes. Here, minors fail to realise the criminal character of such material, and further appear to trivialise material, by adding emojis, funny texts, and in the case of videos also music and other noises.172 There may also be a commercial element facilitated 160 Tech companies include social media platforms, server hosts, sharing platforms, and more. 161 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 162 Keller and Dance. 163 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 1. 164 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 1. 165 Bursztein et al., 1. 166 Bursztein et al., 2. 167 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 168 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 30. 169 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 5. 170 Bursztein et al., 5. 171 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 28. 172 tagesschau.de, ‘Bundeskriminalamt’.
  36. 36. 36/113 by new technology, that ought to be briefly addressed in the surge of availability of online child sexual abuse material. Offenders and domain hosts, driven not only by motives of pedosexual gratification, but also by profit, engage in (on-demand) live streaming, whereby children are either abused live, or (are driven to) create self-generated content, either unsuspecting, or as victims of online solicitation and sexual extortion.173 As to the detection of child sexual abuse material, similar to the production, the reporting of child sexual abuse material also grows exponentially.174 In the US, the NCMEC received 2.4% of the total of all reports it has received until 2017 within the first 10 years of operation, and 40% of all reports in 2017 alone. Notwithstanding, reporting levels and the taking down of materials, as well as investigations into child sexual abuse cases are still seen as insufficient. Explanations point to inadequate policing of such material by tech companies, insufficient cooperation between such companies and authorities, as well as to a lack of resources of law enforcement agencies, particularly in terms of their being understaffed and underfunded.175 As to US tech companies, they are bound by law to report child sexual abuse material, but are not forced to actively search for this material. Nonetheless, several of the major tech companies recently increased voluntary monitoring activities.176 Figure 1: Proliferation of Reports to US Law Enforcement Agencies177 173 Europol, ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’. 174 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 3–4. 175 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 176 Keller and Dance. 177 Source: New York Times, Rich Harris and Rumsey Taylor, based on US Justice Department figures, as presented in: Keller and Dance.
  37. 37. 37/113 However, cooperation with law enforcement is still said to be lacking, with weeks and months passing until tech companies respond to law enforcement questions, if at all.178 As to the lack of resources of law enforcement, the vast amounts of online distributed child sexual abuse material pose a challenge, given that it takes great efforts to identify, verify and analyse leads relating to the large amounts of child sexual abuse material, including efforts towards the localisation and identification of both victims and perpetrators. The latter is particularly relevant in light of the crime area being of an international, cross-border nature, which might effectively mean that cases are investigated in parallel, when it first needs to be seen which jurisdictions and respective law enforcement agencies are the appropriate ones to work on them. Technological solutions clustered under automation, such as auto-classification, intelligent crawlers, integrated and streamlined reporting systems, etc.,179 have not yet been able to adequately address these challenges,180 though efforts to this end are underway. This has led to a backlog of devices and data waiting to be analysed piling up.181 Ultimately, this status quo was described as ‘exceeding the capabilities of independent clearinghouses and law enforcement to take action,’182 with the effect that some law enforcement agencies having to prioritise workload in this crime area by focusing on the cases involving the youngest victims first.183 Both considerations on the creation and distribution, as well on the detection of child sexual abuse material, cover a considerable number of elements, the dimensions of which would not have been possible without the advent of the internet. It provided offenders and collectors of child sexual abuse material with relatively private and anonymous networking possibilities, using encrypted technologies, anonymised access to the dark web,184 and peer-to- peer networks.185 Here, offenders and collectors can discuss their pedosexual interests and share child sexual abuse material, without reference to geographic boundaries and in relative safety from detection. It has even been reported that members of forums on dark web platforms teach others on how to carry out child sexual abuse, how to create respective material, how to share 178 Keller and Dance. 179 The Internet Watch Foundation, ‘The Internet Watch Foundation: Annual Report - Once Upon A Year’, 41. 180 Poblet and Kolieb, ‘Responding to Human Rights Abuses in the Digital Era: New Tools, Old Challenges’, 271. 181 Açar, ‘Osint By Crowdsourcing’, 206. 182 Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 1. 183 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 184 Keller and Dance. 185 Europol, ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’; Bursztein et al., ‘Rethinking the Detection of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery on the Internet’, 2.
  38. 38. 38/113 such imagery,186 and how to learn from the cases that led to the detection of other offenders and collectors of their ‘community’.187 Offenders and collectors refer to themselves as ‘brothers’, to anyone against child sexual abuse as ‘antis’, and to the world in general as ‘increasingly intolerant’, in that it ‘did not allow children to fully express themselves.’188 On these forums, new child sexual abuse material is perceived as more valuable than recirculated material, and one site – now taken down – reportedly required users to ‘share images of abuse to maintain good standing’.189 It has also been observed that ‘in some dark web forums, children are shown on images where they were forced to hold up signs with the name of the group or other identifying information to prove the images are fresh.’190 To find such platforms, individuals need to be aware of a language of codes, and access to encrypted chat rooms is often restricted until an offender or collector shares previously collected or produced child sexual abuse material as gateway.191 Ultimately, the use of technological means by offenders and collectors, particularly in terms of hidden identities and platforms, challenge law enforcement agencies’ efforts to identify both them and their victims.192 Besides hidden platforms, more commonly well-known platforms, such as the Facebook Messenger, the search engine Bing, the blogging site Tumblr, and the cloud storage application Dropbox, have been reported to have also been used to store or share both new and recirculated child sexual abuse material.193 The Facebook Messenger is reported to have been responsible for a large fraction of the reports of child sexual abuse material worldwide.194 Meanwhile, Bing is reported to have provided corresponding search suggestions, when journalists typed in known child sexual abuse key words, and offenders and collectors are reported to have used the sites’ reverse image search tool to find similar child sexual abuse material to that which they already possessed.195 186 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 187 Europol, ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’. 188 Dance, ‘Fighting the Good Fight Against Online Child Sexual Abuse - The New York Times’. 189 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 190 Keller and Dance. 191 tagesschau.de, ‘Nach Missbrauchsfall Bergisch Gladbach’. 192 Europol, ‘Italy Organises First National Victim Identification Taskforce’. 193 Keller and Dance, ‘The Internet Is Overrun With Images of Child Sexual Abuse. What Went Wrong?’ 194 Keller and Dance. 195 Keller and Dance, ‘Child Abusers Run Rampant as Tech Companies Look the Other Way’.

×